Many hospitals and clinics around the world have added massage to the integrative care of their patients.
In the United States, massage is now recommended by the Joint Commission, the Department of Labor, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Veterans Affairs as a first-line, non-pharmacological approach to treat pain and other symptoms. The oncology massage therapist is a valuable part of the integrative healthcare team. Massage therapists often consult with oncology providers to design a safe massage session plan.
Massage is continually adapted to health status, goals, job, and lifestyle factors. As a part of the integrative healthcare team, the oncology massage therapist is ready to help answer a wide range of critical questions about massage:
- Is massage appropriate at this time?
- If massage is appropriate, what are the current best practices?
- Which therapeutic techniques should be integrated into the overall care plan?
- How much pressure should be used?
- How long should the session last?
- What positioning would be most comfortable?
- What qualifications and credentials should an oncology massage therapist possess?
An oncology massage therapist does not just provide touch therapy during the time of the cancer diagnosis and treatment. They are also available for follow-up care. There may be special considerations following treatment, such as peripheral neuropathy, lymphedema risk, scar tissue, or fatigue that a skilled oncology massage therapist can safely navigate with input from the integrative healthcare team.
Our Resource Page is a valuable tool offering healthcare providers access to:
- Our Preferred Practitioner Directory – a resource to locate skilled, oncology-informed massage therapists around the US and internationally
- Current research on the benefits of oncology massage
- Cancer resource links for patients and caregivers
For nurses who have not witnessed the positive effects of massage on patients, all it takes is seeing someone who has struggled with pain management become relaxed, sleep more comfortably, or willingly participate in activities and engage with others to convince the nurse that this is a worthwhile intervention. This “show-and-tell” effect has proven, time and again, to be the most impactful method of promoting massage at bedside.Catherine Weaver, MSN, HN-BC, INFF, RN Integrative C.A.R.E. Services Coordinator Baptist Health Lexington, Lexington, KY